Uproar in Malaysia's Parliament over 'after midnight' debates

Uproar in Malaysia's Parliament over 'after midnight' debates
Gobind Singh

PETALING JAYA - An Opposition MP questioned why the Dewan Rakyat had to continue proceedings until the wee hours to "bulldoze" Bills, calling it a "trend" that he has noticed of late.

Gobind Singh Deo (DAP - Puchong) raised Standing Order 12(2) on the Speaker having the power at any time to suspend the sitting for a stated time.

He brought this up at about 11.30pm on Wednesday during the committee stage of the second reading of the Malaysian Aviation Commission Bill 2015.

"Why are we bulldozing the Bill? It is not even urgent. Speaker, you have the power to suspend the meeting," Gobind said to the thumps of approval from other Opposition MPs.

This led to Tian Chua quipping, "About half of MPs here are asleep."

However, Deputy Speaker Datuk Ismail Mohamed Said told Gobind that the Speaker had the discretion not to suspend the sitting.

A ruckus ensued, leading Ismail to repeatedly hit his mallet to call for order in the House.

Tan Sri Annuar Musa (BN - Ketereh), however, argued that the House had earlier approved a motion that the sitting would end after the Anti-Trafficking In Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (Amendment) Bill 2015 was passed.

"Why is this matter suddenly raised at this hour? Haven't we decided on the motion earlier?" he asked.

Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj (PSM - Sungai Siput) then raised Standing Order 80A, claiming that holding the sitting late at night, was amounting to insulting the Parliament.

"Where is the quality of debates after midnight? I feel that those who decided to finish passing all six Bills tonight do not respect the House," he said.

However, Ismail ruled that there was no breach of Standing Order 80A and ordered for debates to continue.

N. Surendran (PKR - Padang Serai) also urged Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim to explain why the sitting should proceed until the wee hours.

Shahidan later tabled a motion to "stop the clock" to enable proceedings to continue past midnight.

Earlier, Opposition MPs pointed out a flaw in the wording of the Bill with regards to translation.

Rafizi Ramli (PKR - Pandan) and G. Manivannan (PKR - Kapar) argued that it would not be right to pass a flawed Bill.

However, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar pointed out that the error was only in the English version of the Bill.

"The Bahasa Malaysia version of the Bill is correct," he added.

The Dewan Rakyat passed the Malaysian Aviation Commission Bill 2015 at 12.30am, Thursday, after an extended sitting overnight.

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